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How to protect yourself from malaria?
Many of tourists travelling to African countries are afraid of two exotic diseases: yellow fever and malaria. And if you can providently do a vaccination against the first one, but it seems impossible to avoid the meeting with the second one. What is the guarantee that the bit of the local mosquito will not bring any consequences except a short itch? But on the other hand, how do the locals survive in such conditions?
Malaria in Tanzania: myths and truth
As in any similar area with warm humid climate, there are really some cases of malaria infection in Tanzania. But it doesn’t mean that this insidious disease is waiting for you in every corner of the country.
There are four kinds of malarial plasmodium disease infected insects which parasitize on Anopheles - mosquitoes. These bloodsucking mosquitoes do not live everywhere: they are closely linked to standing water and do not fly away further than 8 km. Therefore, the risk to be bitten by a malarial mosquito is high only in places of their permanent habitat: in tropical forests, slopes, marshes, the drying water area and so on.
For example, in the dry savannah and Northern Tanzania where there are cool nights and mountain climate, you almost cannot meet Anopheles. They live in tropical forests, marshes and isles, but only if the air temperature will be comfortable for reproduction of plasmodium (above 20°C) and there will be no wind.
To catch malaria, the following conditions shall be met:
- The environment should be favorable for activities of control the disease vector (standing water, high humidity, boggy or forest terrain).
- When it gets dark (Anopheles -mosquitoes bite only in the dark time!), you go out without any repellents and with minimal clothes. Or you go to bed without fumigator and insecticide-treated bednet.
- Mosquito needs to drink some blood of infected man 4-10 days before to meet you.
- You have a weakened immune system by any long illness and you cannot resist an infection.
How to protect yourself from malaria?
On the advices of doctors and seasoned travelers, there are two ways to cope with the potential disease:
Take drugs for the prevention
The course of special medicines is recommended, to prepare your body to the possible meeting with the malarial mosquito. The most popular are Lariam, Doxycycline, Malarone (or Malanil).
It is advisable to start the prevention before the departure and continue it during all the journey and 2-4 weeks after leaving the country.
But you should note that all these drugs are not harmless for your health because they have a lot of contraindications which could have a negative impact on your body. Liver, intestinal tract, the organs of vision and nervous systems could be affected because of such prevention. Therefore, we advise you to discuss it with your doctor before taking these medicines.
To be careful
If you do not want to share your journey with all possible side effects, so take repellents, long sleeves clothes and choose a good place to sleep. Hotels are equipped with mosquito nets with insecticide. Air-conditioners help well because mosquitoes are afraid of coolness and plasmodium does not develop at temperatures below +20 °C.
Symptoms of malaria and its treatment
Be careful! Pay attention on following symptoms:
- weakness, drowsiness, headache
- increase in body temperature
- muscle and joint pain
- dry mouth
Other characteristics (attacks of chills and fever, sweating, vomit, dizziness, yellowing of eyes) appear in 10-40 days after infection. A preventive intake of drugs does not guarantee hundred-percent reliability of the potential infection. In case of suspicious symptoms, it is necessary to address to any clinic make malaria rapid diagnostic test. Upon detection of the infection you have to take a course of special medicines (Koartem proved itself perfectly, it has an effect on all species of plasmodium and relieve symptoms of disease in a day after the first intake).
And finally, Tanzania has a high level of health care, therefore there are not severe forms of malaria here. With the timely address to doctors, this disease is treated as easy as influenza.
So, do not give up an unforgettable journey because of mosquitoes!